Coaches honor Mustangs

Carter Knepp leads the way for Midd-West among seven Mustangs in boys soccer who were selected to the Heartland Conference Division II Coaches All-Star team.

Knepp was given first team honors as well as being selected to the All-State team and being named Player of the Year. Knepp scored 33 goals and had 18 assists.

“Carter is hands down one of the most talented players in our area and beyond,” Mustangs coach Chris Sauer said. “He backs up his talent and potential with a very high work rate.”

Senior Midfielder Evan Eppley also was selected to first team. Eppley drove in 28 goals and collected 13 assists.

“Evan broke out his senior season,” Sauer said. “He gave many teams nightmares of his runs down the left side of the field all season long.”

Senior defender Keenan Dietz scored a goal and had four assists for the Mustangs and was given the honors of first team.

“Keenan was our leader on and off the field,” Sauer said. “He played a very aggressive center back and saved us numerous times throughout the season with his speed.”

Sophomore defender Stefan Leitzel was also given a first team nod. Leitzel had four goals and three assists.

“Stefan was a physical presence in the back,” Sauer said. “He worked with Keenan extremely well as the two were possibly the best center back pairing around.”

Freshman Nick Eppley was a second-team selection. Eppley scored 12 goals and 13 assists.

“Nick is one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Sauer said. “He has great timing and reads the game really well.”

Goalkeeper Chase Roush also was selected to second team. Roush had 15 shutouts in his first year starting in varsity, a school record.

“Chase was not tested a whole lot throughout the season, but when he was he always stepped up,” Sauer said.

Aiden Steininger received an honorable mention. Steininger scored six goals along with five assists.

“Aiden was our midfield engine,” Sauer said. “He certainly was an unsung hero throughout the season.”

For his efforts Sauer was named coach of the year. He was thankful for his team’s performance this year.

“As far as being recognized for coach of the year, that basically goes to a coach that has a great team,” Sauer said. “My guys were fantastic all year long, going about things the right way. All I had to do was help them see their potential and believe in themselves. Pretty easy when you have a special group of players and great assistants to work with.”

Midd-West drew seven selections to the girls all-stars with three first team, two second team and two honorable mentions.

Senior forward Alyssa Keister, junior midfielder Erin Tompkins and senior defender Shayla Heckman were given the honors of first team.

“I think Alyssa was definitely one of the best players in the league,” Mustangs coach Lance Burris said. “She just works very hard and toughs out a lot of goals. She is one of the best players in Midd-West history.

“Erin is a girl with a ton of natural ability. A lot of our success was her playing great soccer at the end of the season,” Burris continued. “When her is on, we are a hard team to beat. I think Shayla was our silent leader in the backfield. Extremely smart and athletic. She a big part of the 10 shutouts that the team achieved.”

Sophomore forward Arianna Rich and sophomore midfielder Ava Gemberling were second-team nods.

“I look for Arianna to have a bright future at Midd-West, a young player with a ton of potential as a player,” Burris said. “A huge part of our success was moving Ava to mid-field. She was a great 50-50 ball winner and brought a good physical style of play.”

Seniors Aubre Martin and Emma Swineford were honorable mentions.

“Aubre was an incredible piece in the backfield,” Burris said. “I thought Aubre should have been a second-team team player — an extremely hard worker (who) gave relentless pressure against opposing backs.

“Emma was our most improved player from last year,” Burris continued. “Great center back, should have been a first team all-star. Played some tremendous good soccer throughout the year.”

The Mustangs scored six selections in field hockey. Four were named to the first team, one in second team and one was given a honorable mention.

Junior forward Brenna Brown received all five votes from the coaches for the second year in a row. Brown scored 13 goals and collected 13 assists during her junior campaign.

“She is playing with an entirely different group of girls the she has played with the past two years and she adjusted well,” Mustangs coach Jodie Sheaffer said. “She has stepped up to lead our young team while pushing through a knee injury all season. Her stick control and stick skills have created a lot of offensive breakaways.”

Freshman midfielder Marlo Spriggle had 10 goals and 13 assists gave her a first team selection.

“As a freshman, Marlo has stepped up to play a very important role at center-mid after losing nine starters to graduation,” Sheaffer said. “She had big shoes to fill and she stepped up to the challenge as a freshman with her drives and control of the center field. She’s a spit fire and brings so much to the team.”

Sophomore back Haley Stahl was also selected to first team. During her sophomore season, she was named captain by her teammates. She scored two goals and five assists.

“She came back with some varsity experience and took over the role at center back and proved she was ready for the challenge,” Sheaffer said. “Her patience and hard hits coming out of the circle were a great asset to the team this season. She came up with several defensive saves and she always plays with heart.”

Junior goalkeeper Aleah Gemberling made 117 saves and had a save percentage of .900.

“Aleah had big shoes to fill and she proved she was ready to fill them, she stepped into the cage ready to lead the defense this season,” Sheaffer said. “She held off many teams as they swarmed the cage during games. Aleah communicated with her defense and proved she was ready for her starting position in the cage this season.”

Senior forward Jaylynn Blair finishes her career with a second-team nod. Blair scored 13 goals and had six assists.

“This season she has stepped up as captain and has joined Brenna as a center forward to help lead our young team and is third on the team with 32 points,” Sheaffer said. “Jaylynn has the speed and control to create offensive and she has a hard flick on cage.”

Junior back Abby Keister was rewarded with an honorable mention.

“Abby stepped up to become one of the best defenders on the team this season,” Sheaffer said. “She steps to the ball and with her patience and stick skill she can clear the ball out of the defensive end and send the ball up the field. She is by far our most improved player this season and she is definitely the goalie’s best friend.”